Summary: Continuing our series on the Essential 100 with Deborah and her leadership of Israel.
A Woman of Warfare
Essential 100 Series
February 10, 2008
This message has been adapted through the use of a variety of sources including points from other messages on the same passage here on Sermon Central.
Here is an abridged version of the Judges cycle just to refresh your memory from this morning. Israel went through this cycle at least seven times over the three hundred year period of Judges.
Stage One: the people would be doing good.
Stage Two: after these years of prosperity they would turn their backs on God....
Stage Three: God would allow an enemy to oppress them
Stage Four: The people would cry out to God
Stage Five: God sends a deliverer
Stage Six: the people start doing good again (Repeat stages)
Why is the book of Judges set up on such a pattern? First, it is historical. Second, it is instructive. Here is how one commentator describes it:
The entire account is deliberately constructed to emphasize the deliverance provided by Yahweh. He is the One pulling the strings, raising generals, deploying armies, dictating strategy, and effecting the victory. … This passage thus encourages us to perceive God’s sovereignty over history and our own lives. Whether it is in his chastening, in his compassionate deliverance, in his financial provision, or in his leading and guiding decisions, God is sovereign over life, and he is at work bringing his plan to fruition. K. Lawson Younger, Jr.
What do we see happening here as we look at chapter 4 of Judges?
There is a need for deliverance
1 After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help. Judges 4:1-3
The same sad cycle begins once again and Israel walks away from God. Things had been good. God rescued them through Ehud and then after Ehud dies, Israel goes right back to evil practices and ways. Again, these people knew right from wrong and chose to do what was wrong.
Look at verse 2: So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin. Notice the word sold as the main description of God’s action. There would seem to be several implications with this. The Hebrew word here for sold means to sell oneself, to be sold or to be given over to death. God allows Israel to be in bondage to the pagan king of the Canaanites. Israel is also oppressed by Jabin for 20 years because he was a powerful king.
Several times the passage refers to the fact that Sisera has 900 chariots. The chariot was a weapon to be feared. It would have the modern day equivalent of a tank because chariots would have the effect of a tank. They would carry the driver and at least one other rider through the battlefield breaking enemy lines. Chariots would have had a variety of weapons that they would have carried including spears, javelins and short bows with arrows.
Israel had entered the cycle of sin, servitude and surrender. They sinned, were forced into bondage and then cried out to God for assistance. Notice that it took them 20 years to seek God for assistance.
God brings deliverance from unexpected places
4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided. Judges 4:4-5
Make no mistake; God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants through whomever He wants. Israel had been under a heavy oppression from the Canaanites for 20 years. Imagine that Israel lived under an incredible oppression for twenty years without crying out to God. Why would they do such a thing? They were stubborn and hard hearted and would not return to God.
God raised up the only person who was able to lead and that was Deborah. In the ancient times, women in positions of authority were virtually unheard of. However, we see God using women in amazing ways throughout scripture.
Ruth becomes the great grandmother of King David
Esther becomes queen over Babylonia
Mary becomes the mother of Jesus
Mary Magdalene is the first to carry the message of the resurrection
Lydia is used to establish the church in Philippi
Deborah served as judge over Israel and worked as Moses did settling disputes among the people. The name Deborah means honeybee and focuses on the ability to arrange.